Stage D sessions: Combining TACKLE and RUCK

Here is the third session is a series of sessions around the Return to Play and Stage D.

The first session on tackling can be found here.

The second session on rucking can be found here.

Before you start, remember these regulations:

  • No scrum, maul, opposed lineout or upright tackle training activities are permitted.
  • A maximum 15 minute total duration of any of the adapted contact activities within a single training session.
  • Players placed in groups of a maximum of 6 for adapted contact and non-contact skill development activities. 
  • Players should avoid face to face exposure of more than 3 seconds and more than 15 minutes of exposure at less than 1 metre with another player.
  • Use of tackle bags, shields and pads that are cleaned and sanitised after each player use.

Try to avoid using anything that requires cleaning (bags, shields, pads) in the short period that you have. You could lose a lot of time cleaning between sets.

Also, ensure players only spend three seconds in close contact at a time. Our contact sessions need to work on the speed at which contact takes place.

In this session, we are going to combine the work we’ve done in the previous two sessions to check for understanding and finally build more of a live rucking situation.

To do this we will use two elements from previous sessions to check for understanding (part three from sessions one and two) and to ensure safety is still paramount.

Part one: Revise clear away from the tackle

  1. Set up a 2m by 2m box.
  2. Put a tackler and ball carrier inside the box, about two steps apart. A tackle needs momentum to work.

  1. Once the tackle has taken place, the tackler must quickly try to roll out of the box.
  2. If the tackler makes the tackle successfully and rolls out the grid within three seconds they get a point. Otherwise, the attacker gets the point.

Part two: Revise basic ruck decision making

  1. Split into threes. Set out four separate coloured cones on compass points.
  2. A ball carrier will start on their knees in the middle of these. The ball carrier’s teammate and an opposition player ruck start on opposite cones.
  3. On your signal, the ball carrier will then move to face one of the cones with the ball, the two ruckers need to adapt and take the relevant roles.
  4. Remember that we can only work for three seconds of contact.
  5. Give players a point if they “win” the ruck or manage to steal the ball.
  6. Players lose a point for unsafe rucking, for example, hips higher than shoulders or diving in.
  7. Keep rotating the roles.

Part three: New activity for tackle and ruck

  1. In this exercise, four players are going to be active, two attackers and two defenders.
  2. Working in a 5m by 5m channel, the attack aims to score behind the defence. They cannot pass the ball.

  1. The defence aims to tackle the ball carrier with a 3-second clock starting on the first contact of the tackle.
  2. Note, all tackles are below waist height.


  1. If the defence can get hands on to the ball, or get beyond the ball in the ruck they win a point.
  2. If the attack are tackled but prevent a turnover, there are no points for either team.
  3. If the attack scores they gain three points.

As ever, ensure players are carrying out their roles safely, hips below shoulders and remaining on feet. Immediately stop on any unsafe play. The tackler must roll away from the tackle area.

Purpose: We’re combining all elements of the tackle and ruck to produce more live situations. The defence must first make a tackle before deciding what to do, either challenge for the ball or ruck through. The support player in attack needs ensure they can get in a good position over the ball quickly and assess whether to ruck through or simply seal the ball.

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